Leadership and The Workplace

Nonprofit Spark

Renee McGivern

Nonprofit Spark – Making your board dramatically more effective- 06/11/12

Non-profit mission statements often are so lofty no one understands them nor can boards fully identify with them. They sound like a great idea but mission statements often are disconnected from what the board is supposed to do. It’s no wonder that board governance gets confusing; members aren’t sure why they’re there.

What if you think of your mission statement as a promise to your community instead? As a board member, a promise is something I am willing to make or not, willing to be held accountable for or not. A promise says that the board and staff will make the community better as a result of their work and describes how that will look.

On this week’s show, my guest and I explore three things a board can do right now to transform from mediocrity to excellence, starting with making a promise. Gayle Gifford is the author of How to Make Your Board Dramatically More Effective Starting Today and president of Cause & Effect, a Rhode Island consulting firm that helps nonprofits make a bigger impact on their communities.

Gayle asks lots of questions in her book to prod her nonprofit clients to think hard about the kind of organizations they want to be and why. You’ll hear a number of her questions on the show this week: notice how they focus a board’s attention away from the details of staff work, events, the budget.

A great companion show to this is a recent one about nominating committees with Trisha Lester of the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits about nominating committees. That show aired the week of May 21.